Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Silent Saturday by Helen Grant

If you didn't know better you might think this is an adult thriller. It's just the age of the characters that would give you a clue that this was written as book for teens.

The book is set in Flanders, the Flemish community in the northern part of Belgium and the main character is Veerle, 17, who lives with her over protective mother.

The book opens with a 7 year old Veerle climbing to the bell tower of a local church with Kris Verstratens, a boy from a family with a bad reputation.  It's here that she witnesses a man walking down the street carrying the body of a dead child.  10 years later Veerle meets Kris again, the horrors she witnessed on that day have been erased from her memory, but the more time she spends with Kiris, the more she begins to remember.

Kris introduces Veerle to a group, an unusual group where the members rarely meet.  The group is called Koekoeken (Cuckoos)  This group forms a network of people who visit (break in to)  rich people's houses when they are out of town.  They don't do any damage, they simply enjoy it, and often make repairs, improvements when they are able.  Each person in the Koekoeken only knows two other people in the group, and everyone else is known by a pseudonym.

While Veele is being drawn into this world, there is someone on the prowl, De Jager (the Hunter) is murdering people, and as they put the pieces together, Kris and Veerle realise that it's the members of Koekoeken that are being targeted.

Lots of things make this book creepy, the setting for one, and the fact that most of the action takes place sneaking around in the dark of night.  As much as this is a murder mystery, there's also the story of Veerle's mother , whose over protective behaviour becomes extreme, and Veerle feels trapped because she doesn't want to stay in such an oppressed home, but she can't leave her mother either.

The one thing that bugged me, was how the book ended.  I found it abrupt and a bit confusing, but as this is the first book in a trilogy, I am hoping that it will all become clear with book 2.

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